IEC al­lays fears over bal­lot pa­per

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane Billy Ntaote

The In­de­pen­dent elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) has re­as­sured the na­tion about the se­cu­rity of the bal­lot pa­per fol­low­ing con­cerns it had “sus­pi­cious marks” over it, which could have been an at­tempt to rig the 28 Fe­bru­ary poll.

Ad­vance-vot­ing had to be suspended for three hours at Maseru Sun Ca­banas Pol­ing Sta­tion last Satur­day af­ter an early voter had com­plained about the “marks”.

how­ever, vot­ing later con­tin­ued af­ter Sta­tion Manager Thato Moeti and IEC of­fi­cials had ex­plained that th­ese were se­cu­rity fea­tures meant to safe­guard the vote.

But some of the vot­ers were still not con­vinced about the ex­pla­na­tion, which was re­it­er­ated by Act­ing Direc­tor of elec­tions, Pon­tšo ’Ma­matlere Matete, yes­ter­day.

“The IEC no­ti­fies all peo­ple en­gaged in the 2015 Na­tional As­sem­bly elec­tions that one of the se­cu­rity fea­tures sur­round­ing the bal­lot pa­pers is some­what vis­i­ble on each of the bal­lot pa­pers, es­pe­cially against can­di­dates who are 9th on the listed bal­lot page.

“This should not be a de­ter­rent to vot­ing as the elec­tors could still use black-inked pen to mark their votes or punc­ture against their de­sired can­di­dates, us­ing the pro­vided punc­ture in all vot­ing kits and sta­tions.

“We pro­foundly apol­o­gise for the in­con­ve­nience caused by this aber­ra­tion and hope that the elec­tions will run as smoothly as an­tic­i­pated.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Matete, IEC of­fi­cials be­came aware of the marks when the voter com­plained last Satur­day.

“Sus­pi­cion over the se­cu­rity fea­ture marks arose dur­ing the ad­vancevot­ing last Satur­day when one of the vot­ers com­plained about this is­sue. It was then that we be­came aware that all the bal­lot pa­pers had sim­i­lar marks.

“In ev­ery box aligned to the 9th can­di­date on the bal­lot pa­per, there is this blue mark stretch­ing into the box as if a vote has al­ready been made. how­ever, it is very small and should be disregarded.” A TO­TAL of 1,209,170 peo­ple are ex­pected to cast their votes on Satur­day as Ba­sotho choose mem­bers of the 9th Na­tional As­sem­bly.

Vot­ing starts at 7 am and closes at 5pm at 2792 polling sta­tions in the 80 con­stituen­cies be­ing con­tested, with the In­de­pen­dent elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) ex­pected to start an­nounc­ing the re­sults in the early hours of Sun­day.

Twenty-three po­lit­i­cal par­ties and 1116 can­di­dates are tak­ing part in the elec­tion, which is be­ing held two years ahead of sched­ule due to the col­lapse of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment

A to­tal of 23 po­lit­i­cal par­ties are field­ing can­di­dates in the 80 con­stituen­cies’ up-for-grabs in the poll which comes two years early due to the col­lapse of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion, le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party gov­ern­ment.

LCD leader and deputy prime min­is­ter, Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing, ac­cused his ABC coun­ter­part—prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane—of not con­sult­ing him and BNP leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane when mak­ing key de­ci­sions, with the sit­u­a­tion de­te­ri­o­rat­ing into open war­fare, prompt­ing me­di­a­tion by the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC), which re­sulted in Satur­day’s elec­tions. led by Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane.

IEC chair­per­son, Ma­hapela le­hohla, said the re­sults would be an­nounced from the elec­tion Cen­tre lo­cated at Maseru Sun ho­tel.

Mr le­hohla added: “We have about 600 na­tional elec­tion ob­servers, about 500 in­ter­na­tional ob­servers, and 13 in­ter­na­tional and 22 lo­cal me­dia houses cov­er­ing the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 gen­eral elec­tions,” said Jus­tice le­hohla.

“The Com­mis­sion will pro­vide regular up­dates re­gard­ing the elec­tions.”

It is ex­pected all the re­sults would have been an­nounced by Tues­day.

The marks are on both of this bal­lot pa­pers (but dif­fer­ent cos­tituen­cies).

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